Kenya is seven days away from electing new leaders under a new constitution into a new political system. History is about to be made. And yet many of her citizens are planning to leave the country. Many expatriates already have their bookings out. Tourists are backing out of their bookings. Why? In 2007, after the irregular and disputed outcome of the general elections, Kenya devolved into an African stereotype. The country was engulfed in ethnically charged violence which killed thousands of people and turned hundreds of thousands into home-made refugees. In 60 days, Kenyans witnessed a self-destruction pattern that we did not even fathom ourselves capable of. So, you can understand why some people may be skittish about sticking around.
But a group of Kenyans and partners have been organizing campaigns aimed at asking Kenyans to maintain peace during these elections. These campaigns include SAFE Africa’s Ni Sisi Movie (http://www.nisisikenya.com/weblog/?page=3), Spray For Change (http://sprayforchange.com/), The Graffitti Trains, The Kibera Peace Walls (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joelartista/kibera-walls-for-peace-youth-mural-project-nairobi) and Flash Cast’s Peace Feed (http://www.flashca.st/peace).
The leaders all got up with Prophet Owuor and pledged peace. It’s our turn!
Ni Sisi is a Kenyan movie about a village which begins in peace and unity but descends into violence and chaos because of greedy ambitions and fickle minds. It is basically the story of another potential post-election violence episode. The aim of the movie is to inspire Kenyans to “think about it”. The movie is currently showing in theaters and will be available for purchase at an economically acceptable price in the near future.
The Graffiti trains are a project by Joel Bergner. Bergner is a graffiti artist from Brooklyn in New York. He is in Kenya working on the Kickstarter company project called Kibera Peace Walls. The Peace Walls themselves are artistic masterpieces on the walls of Kibera promoting peace. As most people know, Kibera was one of the most intensely affected areas by the post election violence particularly in terms of violence.
Berger extended his mandate to work with Rift Valley Railways to do the Graffiti trains. The railway line was one of the victims of the post election violence as well. So it is only natural that RVR were willing to allow Berger and his team of graffiti artists to have a go at the trains. The trains feature murals painted on the sides and can be seen as the train is in motion along its designated route.
Finally, Flash Cast is a company which does SMS feeds in public transportation. They have installed electronic screens in Compliant MOA buses plying the Ngong Road 111 route. These screens will be displaying a live feed of SMS’s streaming in from Kenyans promoting peace. The startup wishes to use this as a launch platform for future services. And what better way to break into the market than to start by doing something socially relevant?
All in all, the history and future of Kenya have and continue to be in the hands of the Kenyan people. The politician or the business man may be the power or money behind the chaos but it is the Kenyan who picks up a machete who has failed the country. It is not beyond any of us to say “NO” to harming each other for foolish ideologies which never end as promised.